This post compares the instant reactions posted on this site of Saddam Hussein’s execution, with stories which have subsequently emerged.
I posted my immediate and personal reactions to Saddam’s execution hours after learning the news. My intention was to compare them with subsequent reactions world-wide, and to incorporate discussion points raised on this site.
The World-wide reactions
Since that posting, two inter-related aspects of the actual execution have generated an enormous level of interest and violent reaction around the world.
The first of these were the unofficial and graphic images of the execution. These were rapidly diffused through the internet, with traditional news media following-up with varying degrees of censorship.
The second issue, indisputably revealed in the unofficial videos, was what has widely been judged as unacceptable conduct at the scene. This involved the taunting of someone about to die, by some witnesses at the execution.
Chuntering and churning
Much of the web traffic captured the way so many people are turning to the internet to find some comfort for expressing deeply held emotions. There is a sharing of anger, pain, indignation, frustration.
The pay-off is through instant release rather than any evidence that there will be much re-appraisal of ideas or beliefs. In another context (Management of change) this has been referred to as churning not changing. Perhaps this is more chuntering than changing. The web offers some therapeutic solace.
The messages on this site
In contrast, the messages posted to this site offered more scope for unearthing fresh perspectives. That sounds smug. If so it’s to do with the limited access to the posting. The quality of the comments has much to do with the way in which a new site has its earliest visitors through a quite small network of contributors, a high proportion of whom have been actively solicited and selected from the Bogger’s existing network. They tend to be selected as people who are respected for their capacity to make such contributions.
The discussion explored the dilemma facing ‘insiders’, who must have struggled with the possibility of creating a martyr. Moral issues were raised, including a 11th century moral principle of subsidiary and ‘stealing other people’s decisions’.
Other elements of the discussion touched on the social constuctivist argument that we create and ultimately destroy our heroes and anti-heroes. Poets from Donne to T S Eliot were invoked. One poet that might have been invoked was Oscar Wilde. During his famous stay in Reading Gaol there was an execution, and Wilde wrote movingly of imprisonment, in the Ballad of Reading Goal:
Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss
The brave man with a sword.
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